I’m disappointed by the choice to not officially change the name of Wilson College. While I understand, unhappily, the decision to keep Wilson’s association with the School of Public and International Affairs, I see neither the value nor the rationale for also having a residential college shoulder the legacy of a segregationist.
I, for one, will no longer refer to Wilson College by that name. I plan to call it Trotter College, and I invite others to join me in this bit of disobedience. William Monroe Trotter was an African American newspaper publisher who challenged Wilson publicly on his racist views and policies.
The extraordinary thing about language is that it is malleable. You don’t need permission to change it — all you need is agreement from a critical mass. Draw a line through “Wilson” when you see it and replace it with “Trotter.” Change how you speak, and you will keep the conversation alive. Every time anyone asks, you have the chance to bring Wilson’s racism out of that obfuscating murk of “legacy” and into the light of racial justice. Change the language you use, and soon enough you will change the name, no matter what the trustees or administration decide. Just stop using “Wilson.”